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First Light Images From Herschel Satellite Released

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the pretty-pictures dept.

Space 35

davecl writes "The first images from the Herschel satellite have been released by ESA. The images are of the galaxy M51 and show a lot of structure and other features never seen before. Coverage of these results can be found on the ESA website and on the Herschel mission blog. There's a lot of work still to be done on tuning the satellite and instruments for optimum performance, but these very early results already show the promise of this mission. I work on this project and can say that these results are really impressive at this early stage!"

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one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (0, Offtopic)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401455)

this is very cool stuff.... but reading some of the other submissions today it makes me sad that this seems like frivolous spending in light of the social issues this planet is facing

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28401549)

If those crappy images are what we can expect to see from this thing, then I would agree that it was a waste of money.

What ever happened to that old plan to put an interferometer telescope array into Neptune's orbit? Something like that should produce images that are vastly superior to anything we've seen.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (3, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403227)

The maximum resolution of a telescope is proportional to the diameter of its objective (main lens or mirror), and inversely proportional to the wavelength at which it's observing. This is observing at wavelengths 100 times longer than the visible and near-IR instruments like Hubble observe, so it's at a 100x disadvantage coming out of the starting gate.

We've never had images anywhere near this good in this part of the spectrum. I'm very sorry that they offend you.

But you're right. We definitely shouldn't field any instruments until we're ready to deliver, power and support an array at Neptune's distance. After all, it's not like we learn anything from intermediate steps. Just look at all the money we wasted, wasted, on Hubble. Or Palomar. Or Galileo's first telescope. (After all, who needed to know that Jupiter had moons, or Saturn had rings?)

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406055)

lol

it doesn't look as good as images produced by hubble though.

earth orbiting telescopes have already been done and this one looks to be giant fucking turd. not only is it about 20 years late, but the images look like shit.

there is an old saying, anything worth doing is worth doing right. this was definitely not done right. there is another saying, been there, done that.

sorry but you've just been owned and your little telescope fails epicly.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28417531)

Are you under the impression that the purpose of telescopes is to produce aesthetically pleasing images of objects in space? Well, let me fix that for you: they're for gathering information about objects in space. Higher resolution at any wavelength means more information. You're welcome!

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401595)

it makes me sad that this seems like frivolous spending in light of the social issues this planet is facing

Hey without this "frivolous spending" there may not be a society to have social issues. Science is about interpreting the physical world which we all depend on for our survival. You never know what improvements to our lives will come from the "frivolous spending". It may even save the planet itself.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402999)

Ahaha, nice troll. We all know science never changed anything.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403759)

It may even save the planet itself.

Indeed, science already has saved humanity a couple times throughout history ( although I wouldn't say "the planet" ).

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406795)

OI ... why do you start with science spending. You should stop using deodorant while there are children dieing of hunger you insensitive clod.
That dollar a week could save a life that week !?!?

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408943)

You should stop using deodorant while there are children dieing of hunger you insensitive clod.

This is slashdot. You are preaching to the converted.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401701)

just because its the first post doesnt make it off topic. i was just questioning the necessity of this sort of endeavor, syosef makes a great counterpoint to it.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (2, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401871)

Then get off your sorry ass and go out there and do something about these social issues. You're spending valuable time posting on Slashdot - time that could be well spent working on these issues. In fact, the resources you're using on your computer could be better spent towards fixing those social issues.

Start small - make yourself a model for others to follow. It's what Mother Theresa did, and she didn't waste her time on a technology site complaining that all the stuff they wrote about were frivolous. She was too busy, and you should be too.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402259)

It's largely because of science that you can look at the problems we have today and consider them serious social issues. Rewind a thousand years and near-starvation was more or less the natural state of peasants everywhere, diseases routinely killed large fractions of the population everywhere, etc.

If you want to complain about frivolous spending complain about military spending which is not only of much greater magnitude than scientific expenditures, but also tends to create more problems than it solves.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406491)

Don't feed the troll. Just leave him to masturbate into his mother's underwear.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402759)

After some reflection on your post I can only conclude you miss the necessary education or worse, intelligence, to appreciate these steps forwards in science.

So forgetting about a possible lack of intelligence I'd suggest you start reading up about the great things science does for our world.

Re:one giant leap, but we're still falling behind (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407083)

One of the most serious social issues that we face is that people don't value knowledge and learning for its own sake. When the heights of human potential - at any part of the spectrum - are ignored, we all suffer.

We cannot solve social problems by retreating from our highest endeavors. The cost of the space program in the USA per family is the same as what it costs to see a movie. But military programs, inherently negative and wasteful, consume HALF of the federal income taxes paid. We ignore our social problems. We put our national energies into war, and the budget is a reflection of that.

There. That's a proper response to your trolling, don't you think?

first image (2, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401585)

Does the image taken of the ocean right after launch not count? Can anyone dig it up?

Re:first image (2, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401845)

Those were not taken by Herschel's main camera, as that was only uncovered a few days ago [esa.int] .

Re:first image (2, Informative)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401939)

Yes, they were taken with one of the main instruments, PACS. PACS has been switched on since shortly after launch. Yes, the cover was only just opened, but this was one of the objects they viewed shortly after the cover was opened. M51 was chosen because they could directly compare it with Spitzer Space telescope images taken at similar wavelengths.

http://herschel.esac.esa.int/SneakPreview.shtml [esa.int]

pretty amazing (4, Interesting)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401619)

Considering that this image was taken while the main mirrors were still quite warm and not down to operating temperatures, this observatory is going to do great things once fully operational.

Just to be a dick! (2, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401857)

I work on this project and can say that these results are really impressive at this early stage!"

Actually, we find your work to be subpar. Perhaps if you were not posting on slashdot, this telescope would not be the failed lemon that it is. Get back to work, and let's not hear back from you until we have some surface detail of Pluto.

Re:Just to be a dick! (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#28404995)

Your efforts to be a dick have been well above par, keep it up and you may get promoted to cunt.

Rocket scientist! (3, Funny)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401875)

I work on this project and can say that these results are really impressive at this early stage!

Nice to see that at least one slashdot reader really is a rocket scientist!

Re:Rocket scientist! (1)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403177)

Oh, there are many of us here, just counting down until ...

comparisons (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401887)

so whats the resolution on this thing gonna be compared to hubble, regardless of the wavelength.

Re:comparisons (5, Interesting)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28401995)

The best theoretical resolution at 100 microns will be 7.2 arcseconds, limited by the size of the main mirror. Hubble can do 0.05 arcseconds at 0.5 microns (visible light). This may not seem all that impressive, but it about 4 times better than previous far-infrared observatories. And the instruments on-board are significantly more advanced than anything ever used for far-infrared astronomy.

Re:comparisons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406097)

Think of it this way: Hubble is 95 inches across. Herschel is 136 inches across. Visible light has a wavelength of about 0.5 microns. Herschel looks at wavelengths of up to 170 microns. Thus, the resolving power (the 'bluriness') of the Herschel, at infrared wavelengths, is like looking at visible light through a 136 * 0.5/170 = 0.4 inch telescope! That's nothing! That's a crappier view than even cheap binoculars! Now Herschel has great light-gathering power, it can see very very faint objects -- but they will be very blurry, barely better than the naked eye in resolving power. So don't get too psyched.

What I'd like to see is two mirrors, about 3m across, but separated by several hundred meters, and optically aligned to within microns (say, using laser interferometers and very weak charged ion rocket motors to keep them in alignment). Now, such an arrangement would have a resolving power comparable to the Hubble, but have far-infrared sensitivty. Now *THAT* would be cool!

Re:comparisons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408815)

Yes, but the major advantage with 70 uM optics is that the mirror does not need high accuracy to still work well!, rule of thumb is that the telescope must be accurate to 1/4 (most people prefer 1/10th) of the wavelength of the highest frequency being investigated (in this case 70uM -> 17.. 7uM) ) which means the mirror could have been made by hand and still be acceptable for this job!

Hubble comparison -- M51 in visible light (3, Informative)

electrostatic (1185487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403629)

Herschel views in far infrared -- 70 to 160 um (micrometers) in TFA example. Here's a Hubble M51 shot in visible light which is sub-micron wavelength. The shorter wavelength permits greater resolution for a given mirror size.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080614.html [nasa.gov]

Spin rate... (2, Interesting)

AscianBound (1359727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406743)

Though I've looked around a bit, nobody seems to have pointed out something that appears quite interesting in those pictures. The two arms of the galaxy take a sharp turn at mirror points. This seems to imply that the speed of rotation of the galaxy increased significantly suddenly. I'm no astronomer, but this seems important. Does anyone who knows more than me care to shed some light on the matter?

Re:Spin rate... (1)

pjotrb123 (685993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28409391)

> Does anyone ... care to shed some light on the matter

I'm doing that right now. Hope my batteries will keep up. Hard to keep it pointed in the right direction too. And since M51 is 31 million light-years distant, I am not sure we will be here to see the reflection when it hits us in 62 million years.

Tuning (1)

Raven_Stark (747360) | more than 5 years ago | (#28413173)

There's a lot of work still to be done on tuning the satellite and instruments for optimum performance

What does tuning involve?

Re:Tuning (1)

davecl (233127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28421821)

Bias settings for the detectors, calibration, temperatures for the various cooling elements... There's a whole lot of things that need to be sorted out in the commissioning and 'performance verification' phases, and this is what we're spending the time between now and the first full-scale science observations in mid-October.

Pretty pictures (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28416995)

Yes, pretty, because each new pixel added brings the human race more knowledge about the rest of the universe. But we need to put telescopes farther from Earth, such as above and below the elliptic plane of the solar system and far enough away so that the parallax is better than we get with that of the earth's orbit. Being further away from the Sun would also lower the temperature and noise floor, bringing increased sensitivity.

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